Burundi Government Restricts Dynamo Team from Wearing ‘VISIT RWANDA’ Jerseys in BAL Competitions

On March 9, 2024, the Basketball Africa League (BAL) commenced its season in Pretoria, South Africa, with the opening matches of the Kalahari group. This group features teams from various countries, including Dynamo from Burundi, Cape Town Tigers from South Africa, Petro de Luanda from Angola, and Fus Rabat from Morocco.

The Burundian team Dynamo, having arrived in South Africa on March 4, looked forward to their participation with great anticipation. However, a diplomatic controversy unfolded on March 8, when the Burundian government expressed dissatisfaction with the team’s jerseys, which featured the “VISIT RWANDA” slogan. Rwanda, as an official sponsor of the BAL through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), found itself at the heart of a diplomatic dispute with Burundi, stemming from strained bilateral relations between the two countries.

An urgent meeting was convened by a counselor to President Evariste Ndayishimiye, attended by the Minister of Sports and senior Burundian basketball officials, to address this issue. Despite efforts, no agreement was reached, casting doubt on Dynamo’s participation in the scheduled match against the Cape Town Tigers.

In response to the deadlock, Dynamo appealed to the International Basketball Federation’s African division (FIBA) for permission to play without the “VISIT RWANDA” logo. They indicated their willingness to withdraw from the competition if a resolution could not be found.

Ultimately, the match took place on the evening of Saturday, March 9, with Dynamo emerging victorious over the Cape Town Tigers, 86 to 73. For the game, Dynamo covered the Visit Rwanda logo with a black band, a decision that was well-received by basketball fans in Burundi. Had Dynamo not participated, they would have faced a fine that could have significantly hindered the progress of basketball in Burundi, a country that has been making significant strides in the sport.

This victory was celebrated enthusiastically by Burundi’s President, Evariste Ndayishimiye, who commended the team for their performance via his X account, encouraging them for future matches.